«Comedy and irony in order to arouse thoughts and reflections through the act of dance». Conversation with Silvia Gribaudi
How did the performance R. OSA come about?
R. OSA is performance which arises from the passion for rounded bodies, for the curvy shapes of the body, from the curiosity to explore their dynamics. I started the work in 2009 creating A corpo libero (which was awarded the Prize for young auteur dance of the Veneto Region and selected in 2010 for Aerowaves, besides a number of other national and international festivals), where I play with a choreographic score which makes all the fatty parts of the body shake, creating with irony a dance which downplays some physical taboos. Sice 2011, I have developed laboratories and community performances dealing with the topic of the physical changes involved in ageing. In R. OSA I wanted to encourage people to dare (“Osa” means “dare” in Italian), I wanted to surprise through physical virtuosity, show the lightness that a body can have besides the seeming heaviness.
In 2015 I had the chance to meet Claudia Marsicano in the production centre “La Corte Ospitale”, where she was taking part to one of my laboratories within a project in collaboration with the director Roberta Torre. Claudia is a 25-year-old actress living in Milan, where she attended the theatre school “Quelli di Grock”. I was struck by the flexiblity of her body, and the following year I proposed her to take part to this project. As I worked with her, I discovered her many talents; and, within these virtuosity games, I tried to create a dramaturgy made of joyful scenes, which could give full value to each part of her body. I worked with her on “clown-truth”, on that part of pure pleasure of being on stage which can develop physical and vocal scores which beak the fourth wall and create a direct communication of the gesture, without compromises, where technique is in the service of a natural gesture.
This is real virtuosity: the balance between being the animator and the poet of a dance. After each performance of R. OSA, Caludia and I discuss intensely about what the relationship with the public, which changes every time, has been like. How far can we push the gesture when people laugh? How long should we hold it back? How shall we take the audience inside the body, making people feel at ease in the impact with the virtuosity they are seeing?
You have worked before on identity and gender and on over-60-femininity. How does this performance find its place in your poetics?
In my work I put into practice the philosophy I embraced in 2001, the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin; and in my performances I try to embody these concepts in theatre and dance, and to place the value of human relationship at the centre of it all, as my master Daisaku Ikeda teaches. In every work, I like to ask myself these questions: what impact does the body have on society nowadays? What sort of privilege do we enjoy on the basis of physical appearance? How can we overturn the look of those around us so as to encourage them to see that the things they deem impossible can actually become possible? I am very interested in deconstructing roles, and this is an element which characterises all my work. And R. OSA arises from this questioning as well.
Would you define yourself as a “committed author”?
That is tough question! I would like to be seen as an author who uses comedy and irony in order to arouse thoughts and reflections through the act of dance.
In what way does the audience have a leading role in the performance and how has the audience reacted so far?
The audience always reacts in a participatory and enthousiastic way. Real participation is, as i mentioned before, the continuous movement created through choreography between the audience and the perfomer. In this invisible space lies the authentic dance of this performance, an alternation of smiles and thoughts, but also bodies in action, which give sense to the work of R. OSA .
Your work is supported by the Zebra Association, which you established in 2011 together with Chiara Frigo and Giuliana Urciuoli. In what way does this project experience influence your creative work?
We chose the name Zebra because zebras, despite looking all the same in their striped fur, have each one their own peculiar design. Our unity is based on the value of diversity, which we defend in a structure which is also open to other artists such as Anna Piratti (a visual artist) and the young dancer and choreographer Siro Guglielmi; and which aims at supporting a range of productions through an active dialogue of artistic debate. This all represents me in the necessity to build artistic structures which give expressive freedom to the diversity which lies within each artist.
This is your second participation to NID Platform. What do you expect from the 2017 edition?
Participating to NID means giving to the performance R. OSA the opportunity to gain national and international exposure, so I hope I have the chance to meet new people for future projects.
Winner of both the Audience Award and the Jury Award at the GD’A Veneto 2009, shortlisted in 2010 for Aerowaves Dance Across Europe, she participated in numerous national and international festivals, among which the Biennale di Venezia and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2012. She creates specific performances on: Genders issues (project Performing Gender 2014 Performance Museum Reìna Sofìa Madrid and MAMbo Bologna), Reflections on the femininity Over 60, Performance Active ageing through the art of dance, with the title What age are you acting? – The relativity of ages a piece produced by the European project ACT YOUR AGE. “Silvia Gribaudi is a unique artist who cultivates ugliness and a bitter humour; her showy physique is definitely against the current” (Roger Salas, El Paìs).
Interview by Lisa Cadamuro, NID Platform staff
Translation by Chiara Andreola, NID Platform staff